In 1904, Judge Mayer Sulzberger presented his library and 26 ceremonial objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary to serve as the initial establishment of a Jewish museum. From this modest beginning and through the generosity of many patrons and collectors, the JTS collections grew. In 1944, Mrs. Felix M. Warburg, a member of JTS's Board of Directors, offered her home for use as a museum, and on May 8, 1947, The Jewish Museum opened in the Warburg Mansion on Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street. A gift from Mr. and Mrs. Albert A. List provided funds for much-needed additional space, and the new List building, adjoining the Warburg home, opened in 1963. The Jewish Museum was granted its absolute charter from the University of the State of New York in June 1957 and has its own officers and Board of Trustees. In 1993, the museum expanded and totally renovated its buildings to increase space for gallery, office, and educational use. The Jewish Museum continues to operate under the auspices of JTS.
Dedicated to presenting the remarkable scope and diversity of Jewish culture, The Jewish Museum serves as a unique source of insight and inspiration for all people. Visitors to the museum enjoy an art experience that captures 4,000 years of Jewish life and culture.
The museum's permanent collection has grown to more than 26,000 objects—paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs, ethnographic material, archaeological artifacts, ceremonial objects, and broadcast media materials—making it the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world.
Established in 1981, The Jewish Museum's National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting contains the largest and most comprehensive body of electronic media materials on 20th-century Jewish culture in the world.
The centerpiece of the expanded Jewish Museum is a two-floor permanent exhibition, Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey, which conveys the essence of Jewish identity as seen through the basic ideas, values, and culture developed from the biblical period to the present. This vibrant exhibition includes art, archaeology, ceremonial objects, audio and video displays, and an interactive computer program on the Talmud.
The Jewish Museum is also known for its temporary exhibitions, which often combine art and artifacts and interpret them through the lens of social history. These range from an exploration of pivotal historical events to the personal interpretation of Jewish culture by renowned contemporary artists.
The museum's educational program serves a multicultural and multigenerational audience. A variety of films, concerts, performances, lectures, and panel discussions are offered for adults. Family programs such as concerts and art workshops teach children about Jewish culture and history. Each year more than 45,000 public and private elementary and high school students attend specially prepared programs created in conjunction with current exhibitions. A corps of 40 docents provides tours of exhibitions to visiting groups from throughout the country and the world.
The Jewish Museum Shop offers an extensive selection of distinctive gifts, books, cards, graphics, audio and videotapes, reproductions, and ceremonial objects. Unique collectible works created by contemporary artists can be purchased as well.
JTS students and faculty are given free admission to the museum, as well as discounts in the shop and on museum programs. For information call (212) 423-3200 or visit The Jewish Museum online.